I have a sister.
Her name is Kathy.
She is 9 years older than me.
Other than that, we are twins.
Only her teeth are better and her handwriting is neater and she can carry a tune.
She has a secret crush on Bono (or is it Sting?), is double-jointed and has a capped front tooth, compliments of me.
Her hair is slightly darker than mine, and we gain weight in the same places.
Her nickname in high school was “Booger”. I am a little weirded out by that.
She makes up funny rhymes, can't make a decision, can keep a secret and has an irritating affection for animals.
I am so lucky she is mine. She has always loved me.
We never went through the mutual sister hatred that has been prevalent (at times) between my daughters.
We just took on, silently agreed upon, the fact that she was the big sister and I wasn't and this has always worked out.
She taught me pig-Latin. That is, she taught me after it was no longer useful as a way to talk about me when I was in the same room.
She produced miniature Miss America pageants, where, duh, I won Miss America. She did my hair and make-up, sang the theme song and was genuinely happy that I won.
She plucked my eyebrows, made me my first martini, took me to Europe and told me the facts of life....not necessarily in that order.
After looking through years of old photos, I am also convinced that Kathy and I were put on earth to support each other through bad fashion and bad hair.
I love Kathy.
She was a cheerleader in high school, president of her sorority while at Lenior Rhyne College, an elementary school teacher for 20 years, married for more years than that to this guy, Ted. She has traveled a good part of the world.
Did I mention that she speaks pig-Latin?
In 2006, Booger suffered a spinal cord injury.
They call it T8.
Technically, it means she has a SCI of the eighth thoracic vertebra.
Not so technically, it means she has a loss of mobility, sensation and feeling.
She gets around in a wheel chair.
I don’t really want to talk about it. Or write about it.
Because, I don’t want to diminish or misrepresent what it is like to live her daily life.
I know that what we consider a “no-brainer”, a simple task, is most likely an obstacle to her.
I know she lives with pain and all sorts of life-interrupting side effects from the medications she needs to take.
She is my hero.
She isn’t a complainer. She is downright cheery and upbeat.
She has learned to drive an adapted car. She plays bridge, goes to book club, attends a support group, does her laundry, shops, cooks, reads and all that other stuff we upright walkers do.
But it takes a lot of time and effort.
She loves to work out and drives herself to a special gym, run by special people. I want to put the link here. It is called Race to Walk. Read about it. You can see Kathy under “clients” – she is Kathy E.
She knows more about exercise physiology than anybody I know. She could lift Arnold Schwarzenegger over her head and throw him over your house.
So, Kathy, I am running the Cooper River Bridge Run for you.
This year, 2011, is dedicated to you.
Because you can’t run it and I don’t know any other way to get you over that long bridge other than by carrying you with me – in my heart.
Every step of the way, I will be thinking of you and praying for you. Thanking God for you and your amazing sister-ness and your indomitable spirit.